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Graduation with Distinction

Each department within the Pratt School of Engineering offers students the opportunity to earn Graduate with Departmental Distinction. This is essentially a senior thesis project, requiring research conducted through an independent study project, and a written and oral presentation, although specific departmental requirements for the written and oral presentation will vary. We view this program as an opportunity for students to conduct independent research under the guidance of supportive faculty members who are leaders in their field. Confirmation of Graduation with Departmental Distinction is awarded by vote of the appropriate engineering department.

To be considered for Graduation with Departmental Distinction, engineering students in biomedical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering must have a 3.5 GPA and successfully complete a significant Independent Study project in his or her senior year. Departmental requirements for an oral presentation and written report vary somewhat. However, the results of the research project must be summarized in a formal written report and defended in an oral presentation before a committee of faculty members.

The opportunity for independent study with faculty members conducting research at the frontiers of engineering knowledge is an important consideration for engineering students at Duke. Most students who undertake Independent Study do so in their senior year, but qualified students can undertake Independent Study after their sophomore year. Students who anticipate Independent Study are encouraged to complete their foundation courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and engineering as early as possible, so that they will have the background to address challenging engineering problems in collaboration with their faculty study mentor.

Independent Study courses are listed in the Bulletin of Undergraduate Instruction under the following names:

Biomedical Engineering

  • BME 394 (190), Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Research
  • BME 493 (191), BME 494 (192) Projects in Biomedical Engineering

Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • CE 190 (141), CE 490 (142) Special Topics in Civil Engineering
  • CE 394 (172), CE 493 (173), CE 494 (174) Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Research
  • CE 491 (197), CE 492 (198) Projects in Civil Engineering

Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • ECE 391 (191), ECE 392 (194) Undergraduate Research in Electrical Engineering
  • ECE 491 (197), ECE 492 (198) Projects in Electrical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

  • ME 394 (172), ME 493 (173), ME 494 (174) Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Research
  • ME 492 (198) Undergraduate Research in Mechanical Engineering

These courses are designed to allow juniors and seniors to work individually with a faculty member on a project or topic of mutual interest. Courses are arranged on an individual basis at the instigation of the student or faculty member. A formal written report and an oral presentation is also required for candidates for Graduation with Departmental Distinction and may be required for other independent-study students at the discretion of the faculty member supervising the independent study. The faculty member's permission must be obtained before a student can register for an Independent Study Course.

Contact the Departments for additional information.